“More and more people care about religious tolerance as fewer and fewer care about religion.” Alexander Chase
Today: Haiti | Honduras | Hungary
Cover Photography © Stefano Giovannini | Child in Jacmel, Haiti
Did you know?
Vodou (Voodoo) may be considered Haiti’s national religion. Roman Catholicism is the official religion of Haiti, but voodoo may be considered the country’s national religion. The majority of Haitians believe in and practice at least some aspects of voodoo. Most voodooists trust that their religion can coexist with Catholicism. Webster University Professor Bob Corbett, a prominent explorer of Haitian life, explains:
First and foremost, Voodoo is a religion. It is the dominant religion of Haiti. Many of the practices and descriptions of Voodoo belief may sound to us like rank superstition, but then, imagine the beliefs of Christianity to people who know nothing about it.
The most basic concepts of Voodoo:
There is one God, Bondye. This God is very similar to the God of Islam, Judaism and Christianity.
There are three important categories of other spiritual beings:
- Iwa (Loa). These are the various spirits of family members; the spirits of the major forces of the universe – good, evil, reproduction, health, all aspects of daily life.
- The twins. A curious and rather mysterious set of forces of contradictories: good and evil, happy and sad etc. If honored now and again in religious services, they will tend to help you have the better side of life.
- The dead. Mainly the souls of one’s own family members who have died but have not yet been “reclaimed” by the family. Ignored family dead are dangerous. Honored and cared for family dead are helpful.
The central and key aspect of Voodoo is healing people from illness. Such healing activities probably constitute 60% of all Voodoo activity. Healers heal with herbs, faith healing (with the help of lwa and other spirits) and, today, even with western medicine!
The priesthood of Voodoo contains both men (houngan) and women (mambo). Their functions are: healing; perform religious ceremonies to call or pacify the spirits; hold initiations for new priests (tesses); tell the future and read dreams; cast spells and create protection; create potions for various purposes (from love spells to death spells).
Another central feature of Voodoo is the “service,” the religious rites of the religion. These are usually held outside, under a rough roof and around the “poto mitan,” the center pole. A houngan or mambo almost always directs these. Drums are used extensively to provide music and dancing is absolutely essential to the whole service. Services are fully participatory. Not only the houngan and mambo participate but nearly everyone present. In most services the lwa “mount” people. That is, they come and take over a person’s body for a time. When the lwa come, the person is gone. Nearly every Voodoo service has animal sacrifice. By killing the animal one releases life.
“Thus I urge you to recognize that Voodoo is Haiti’s religion, it is taken very seriously not merely by unlettered peasants, but many intelligent and learned members of the Haitian society believe as sincerely in Voodoo as do German theology professors in their Christianity. In no way do I expect you to believe in Voodoo; no more than I would expect you to convert to Islam if I taught a course on that religion. But, please do recognize that it is every bit as real a religion as the major religions of the world.” Prof. Bob Corbett
Did you know?
Sawdust Rugs are traditionally created on the morning of Good Friday. Semana Santa (Easter) in Honduras is a celebration of art, color, tradition and faith. Each year, on the morning Good Friday, devout citizens of Comayagua, Honduras take to the streets to create temporary “Alfombras” (or “carpets”) depicting religious scenes. Using nothing but colored sawdust and other powders, the religious revelers create hundreds of intricately detailed and wonderfully colorful designs. These carpets, despite the skill and work put into them, only last a scant nine hours before they’re stamped out by a holy march marking the stations of the cross. Each carpet carries an evangelistic message and is designed freehand on cardboard molds. The sawdust is dyed with aniline to give it the vivid colors. (Atlas Obscura)
Did you know?
The Easter Festival in Hollókő is probably the most famous in Hungary. Hollókő is known for embracing the folk traditions of the 18th century, where locals dress up in traditional costumes for the Easter festivities. There are several programs and activities during the two-day Easter Festival, including egg painting, folklore programs, arts and crafts and children programs. Easter Mondays are usually lot of fun in Hollókő, as ‘Dousing Day’ is practiced following old traditions. Boys would douse the girls with buckets of water to ensure they become good wives. In exchange for the dousing the girls would reward the boys with Easter eggs. (Roberta Gyori)
Around the World on Fridays: A visual experience of people portraits and a curiosity glimpse into alphabetically selected countries for each post & regular updates in “A Country a Day” (*) on Madalina Dobraca People & Culture Boutique. For the love of humans everywhere!
(*) “A Country a Day” is a mini-project I started on the 4th of June 2016, aiming to alphabetically cover each country of the world through a daily photo-pictorial illustrating the unique and diverse personalities of the featured countries. Enjoy the variety and beauty of people and cultures every day!
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